Texas Longhorns Nab No. 6 Seed in NCAA Tournament, will face University of Northern Iowa Friday

As Texas prepares to play Northern Iowa in the NCAA tourney Friday night in OKC, Shaka Smart talks about the team meeting that shook things up after losing to Baylor in Kansas City, Cam Ridley's progress and a possible clash with Texas A&M. Follow the Longhorns journey through March Madness right here at Horns Digest.

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Texas is the No. 6 seed in the West and will face University of Northern Iowa in Oklahoma City on Friday at roughly 8:50 pm CT on TBS.

If Shaka Smart's Longhorns can't beat UNI, they could face No. 3 seed Texas A&M if the Aggies beat Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Texas players just got done talking about the Longhorns' No. 6 seed in the West Region of the NCAA Tourrney and a matchup against No. 11 seed Northern Iowa. With a win the Horns could face No. 3 seed Texas A&M in the Round of 32.

* Northern Iowa finished fifth in the Missouri Valley, but won 12 of its last 13 games, including the Missouri Valley Conference tourney.

* Smart said his VCU team faced Northern Iowa the previous two years, "So we have a lot of familiarity with them."

* Smart said there was a lengthy team meeting after the loss to Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City.

"I didn't do much talking. I encouraged the guys to get some things out on the table, and I think there were some things said that probably made some uncomfortable. But that stuff only matters if guys are willing to step forward and do something about it. The reality is we have to play better than we have since the Oklahoma game."

* Javan Felix said fans will be looking ahead to a possible game against rival Texas v A&M. But he said the players absolutely can't do that.

* Isaiah Taylor said he's dealing with the Plantar Fasciitis in his right heel, but said that wasn't the reason he struggled vs Baylor (0 points in first half). Just said BU did a good job of cutting off the lane and defending he and Felix (who also had 0 pts in the first half vs BU, when the Bears went up 11).

Taylor said he'll play through any pain in the NCAA tourney because "my blood will be boiling."

* Cameron Ridley said he's working hard each day to be able to play more than the 2 minutes he played vs Baylor in the Big 12 tourney.

* Texas coach Shaka Smart's thoughts on his team heading into the NCAA Tournament:

"At this point, the seedings don't matter. Northern Iowa has been playing a lot better than we have recently. They've won 12 out of their last 13. You have to stick your chest out and say, 'Let's go do this.' If you can't do that, it's going to be a short stay. That's the reality. There's a level of ownership our team is going to have to take in all the small details."

On calling his team "hypocrites" after the loss to Baylor:

"I talk about hypocrisy a lot. We all have a level of hypocrisy about us. And if you say you want to beat Baylor and then don't go out and do the things necessary, you're hypocritical. I encouraged our guys to call each other out in specific terms about what wasn't being done or what needed to be done. And things were said. Our guys have been terrific in practice, but carrying it over to the game is what it's about at this time of year.

"You can rip some scabs off, and it's not like have a lot of time to heal from wounds. But we'll see how we do."

On VCU making the NCAA Tournament and also being in Oklahoma City with Texas:

"I follow them. If one of those guys texts me or contacts me, I'm supportive of them and say do what your coach wants you to do." 

"I'm just glad we don't play them, because I thought that could be coming."

On the possibility of facing No. 3-seeded, co-SEC champion Texas A&M if Texas gets past UNI:

"Will I mention it (a possible matchup with A&M in the next round)? They're well aware of it."

On Northern Iowa:

"They have a dynamic lefty point guard in Wes Washpun, who I think is in his fifth year.

"We beat them in double OT at our place last year. He (Washpun) was terrific in that game.

"The year before, we lost to them at their place.

"They shoot 38 percent from 3.

"They're primarily a motion offense team. Lot of screening and cutting. Lot of continuity on their team. They know who they are and can hurt you in a lot of different ways.

"They try to take away driving lanes. They play some zone. They'll double the post."

On Cam Ridley, who played 2 minutes in the Big 12 tourney loss to Baylor, coming off a fractured left foot:

"The trainers said he could play 5 minutes max against Baylor. He only played 2 minutes because he had a little pain in his foot.

"Saturday, he practiced 30 minutes in three, 10-minute increments and seemed great.

"Sure would be nice to get the big fella in there (going forward)."

On not playing up tight:

"If we put all this pressure on ourselves to win or to not make mistakes, it will be a short stay. You have to let your hair down and play with some fire. You can't play not lose or not to mess up."

 

On getting freshmen Eric Davis and Tevin Mack to step up their games:

"We have to get those three to believe they are as good as anyone in the country. Right now, Snoop (Kerwin Roach) is the only one playing that way. Eric (Davis) and Tevin (Mack) need to get there."

Texas will play Northern Iowa at about 8:50 pm CT on Friday (TBS)

Last year, Texas lost early enough to Butler in the first round (in Pittsburgh) that the Longhorns were home by dinner that night.

When told what time Texas was tipping off, Shaka Smart joked, "Well, we won't be home by dinner."

 

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